I always hesitate to use absolutes like “best,” but some durians just deserve it. D17 is one classy cat, and may be the best Johor durian I’ve ever had.
Note the “ever” in that sentence. I’m leaving room for more discoveries.
Glen is also a classy cat. Some people just have impeccable tastes, and I would file Glen and his wife Candy into that category of human.
But one of the elements that I think makes Glen so classy is that not only did he discover the best Johor durian, he then wanted to share it. Some people would keep a discovery like D17 to themselves, leaving false trails by posting other, lesser durians on Facebook, or frustrating honest inquiries with laughing emoticons.
No, that’s not Glen. Glen invited me out to Pontian to taste the best Johor durian on one condition: that I tell all of you about it.
Pontian is a seaside town on the west coast of Malaysia, near the border with Singapore.
The name is derived from the Malaysian word for “stop,” which I thought was fitting since that’s all we did there. We stopped, we ate, we left.
That is apparently the most popular thing to do in Pontian. It’s a weekend destination for gourmands who drive over for a Sunday brunch at one of the small, undiscovered seafood restaurants, and then go home again.
Hey, sometimes brevity makes impressions stronger.
D’Unforgettable Durian Stall
I didn’t have a clear idea where we were going when we set off one Saturday morning on a search-and-destroy mission for good food and weekend fun.
When we pulled over at this small fruit stand on the side of the road in downtown Pontian, I was a little surprised. It didn’t even have tables or chairs for people to eat at. Instead we stood around in a crowd of greedy monkeys while Glen arranged the durian.
I have no idea how many D17 durians he’d ordered, but I think he took the full lot. Glen assured us we’d not only be able to eat them all, we’d be left craving more.
All three of us, plus a couple of Glen and Candy’s friends, were a hungry durian bunch.
D17 – the Best Johor Durian I’ve Ever Had
D17 is a small durian, probably only weighing 1.5 kilos.
Despite having a “D#,” indicating that it’s registered with MARDI, D17 is not on their list. You will find no mention of D17 if you search on the MARDI registrar, but plenty of references to it on blogs in Johor and Singapore.
They agree that a D17 should have large, greenish thorns, and an elongated shape.
On the inside, D17 looks rather uninspiring. It’s a white or cream-colored durian with a lot of shell compared to the amount of flesh you get.
But to the eye of the trained durian glutton, those wrinkles hold a lot of promise.
D17 keeps that promise. Try to imagine a durian that tastes like an ice cream cocktail.
A durian that’s sticky and smooth like Greek yoghurt, the fatty kind.
It was the kind of durian that took my breath away, because it was unexpectedly good, better than good, better than I could remember durian being good.
When we were getting close to running out of D17, I looked around at the other durians available. I didn’t expect them to live up to the D17, but I do have a collection to maintain and build.
I was thrilled to find D1, the very first durian ever registered to MARDI. What a great addition to my checklist of Malaysian durian varieties!
There was just one problem.
The D1 in front of me, the pretty sweet thing with a mild, milky flavor, didn’t match the description on the MARDI website.
According to MARDI, a D1 durian should be like this:
Large seeds, thin white, sweet flesh
small fruit (800-900 g)
round, 12-15% edible portion
It was small, but not particularly round, and the flesh was definitely not white. It was pale orange, and so thick and waxy I could pull the flesh off the seeds, which were not big at all. Instead they were small and half-aborted.
My D1 didn’t match the description on MARDI at all, but it did match Leslie Tay’s description on his blog, ieatishootipost, as well as other blogs I later cross-referenced.
“Who do you think is a better authority on durians,” Glen later laughed when we discussed this dilemma. “MARDI or Tay?”
I had to hand it to Leslie Tay. The man knows his Johor durians.
The Fen Family
When we had finished stuffing our faces, we got to chatting with the lovely Fen family, who own the 7-acre durian farm that supplies D’Unforgettable Durian Stall (that’s its name).
According to the two daughters, who spoke really good English, the D17 tree isn’t even that old, maybe 30 years. They invite us out to the farm to see it for ourselves, but the weekend clock was ticking at it was time to head back into Johor Bahru for the next durian stop.
I hope I’ll go back next year. And I hope that you won’t have eaten all the D17 before I get there.
How to go to D’Unforgettable Durian
Address: Jalan Parit Mesjid, Pontian (By the road near Lorong Aggerik, in front of YSL Sdn Bhd)
Tel: Ah Fen 012-739-3729 / 010-706-7076
Use this map to find durian stalls in Malaysia or navigate to posts about other stalls and farms where you can eat durian.
Scott Kauffman says
Wow, D17 must really be something special to receive a rave review from a well-traveled durian hunter like you 🙂 Sounds absolutely delicious!!!
[email protected] says
It really was! Surprised me